Depicting life in Los Angeles

A few years ago, the Hollywood-based Greek artist Konstantin Kakanias had cast the heroine of his paintings – the fictional and vain Mrs Tependris – in the role of a contemporary art collector. Those familiar with the work of Kakanias often note that Mrs Tependris is not just the artist’s muse but also his alter ego. The role of Mrs Tependris as an art collector reflects the interest that Kakanias takes in the work of other artists. It is out of this interest that Kakanias recently decided to curate a show on contemporary art from Los Angeles, the city where he has been living for the past eight years. «Darling, Take Fountain» which is the title of the show currently being held in the new space of the Kalfayan galleries in Kolonaki (the phrase was the answer Bette Davis gave when asked the way to become famous), is not meant as a documentation of contemporary Los Angeles art and does not intend to make a theoretical, curatorial statement. It is more about an artist’s emotional involvement with the city in which he lives and his relationship with his Los Angeles-based artist friends whose work he admires. No works of Kakanias are included, yet the show is an expression both of the artist’s taste and of the way he experiences life in Los Angeles. Judging from the show, it is interesting to note that Kakanias sees Los Angeles as a city without people, a place where meeting others and building relationships does not come easy. According to Kakanias, the concept of the show is «Los Angeles dehumanized. A huge metropolis, vast, endless and isolating with no feelings, no emotions, no personal relations, vacuous, plastic, ‘white on white’ as Warhol says in his brilliant «Popism.»» However, «Darling, Take Fountain» is not a dark, pessimistic exhibition. Most of the works have an ethereal and graceful quality about them – which in fact reminds one of Kakanias’s drawings – and, seen together, put across a relaxed atmosphere. This feeling of relaxation and liberation is actually what Kakanias considers to be another dominant aspect of life in Los Angeles. Kakanias says that contrary to New York’s art world, which is more compact and center-based, the LA art scene is less constricted, more open-minded and autonomous. This was in fact the reason why Kakanias decided to move to Los Angeles, having previously lived in New York and Paris. The exhibition features works by both young and established artists. Highlights include a beautiful drawing-map of Los Angeles as seen from Mulholland Drive by the renowned painter David Hockney. There are also black-and-white photos from the 1960s by Ed Ruscha. From the 60s, there are also the pop-inspired paintings of logos by Sister Corita, a Californian nun-artist whose personality left a distinctive mark on the art world of the time. Among the works by the younger artists, those of Pae White (a spider’s web sprayed with paint and presented inside a diaphanous material) or the monochrome landscapes by Sandeep Mukherjee are among the most interesting. Also participating are Justin Beal, Kim Fisher, Keith Boadwee, Jeff Burton, Piero Golia, Dan McCleary, Jennifer Nocon, Catherine Opie, George Stoll, Eric Wesley and Sam Durant. Seen as a whole, the works presented compose a fresh and charming exhibition about Los Angeles seen through the eyes of a Greek artist and his artist friends who live in the city. At the Kalfayan Gallery (11 Haritos, 210.721.7679) to September 29.

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